Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
As I mentioned in the past, I’m an inveterate coffee drinker, especially Italian-style espresso or Spanish cortado and, of course, I was raised drinking Greek coffee or as the rest of the world calls it, Arabic coffee. Coffee is a part of Greek hospitality culture where guests are still offered a coffee demitasse and a teaspoonful of fruit preserves every time they visit a Greek home. A cup of coffee has become an integral part of many other cultures as well. For me, enjoying a great espresso is the perfect way to finish the day after a good meal or anytime I need a pick-me-up.
I recently discovered Java Love, one of the top artisanal coffee roasters in the Northeast that has two coffee shops, one in Montclair Center and one in Upper Montclair, NJ, one in Bethel, NY, and one in Suffern, NY; the last being the place where all the coffee roasting is done.
Java Love founders and co-owners Jodie Dawson and Kristine-Ellis Petrik put into practice their motto: Coffee With Integrity. They are committed to support other women in the coffee growing industry and they roast all of their coffee themselves. Knowing where your coffee comes from and who grows it matters!
The art of blending and roasting small-batch, sustainably-grown coffee beans from different parts of the world requires knowledge, a discriminating nose and a very well trained palate.
As far as I’m concerned, the best coffee, especially espresso, cappuccino or cortado resides at your favorite coffee shop. Pulling the perfect espresso shot requires precision; the machine must maintain both exact temperature and steady pressure to successfully brew a classic espresso cup and, of course, the coffee has to be freshly roasted. There is a recipe for the blend of beans roasted for espresso; depending on their origins and aromatics, the blend is usually 50% Arabica and 50% Robusta, the two coffee varieties that produce most of the coffee beans sold around the world, or 60% Arabica, 40% Robusta when beans come from Africa or from the Caribbean. Beans for other styles of coffee are usually 100% Arabica or have a very small percentage of Robusta to spice up the finished beverage and increase the aromatics.
And, of course, there is always instant coffee but, except for an ice-cold café frappe (an ubiquitous Greek summer drink since Greece discovered Nescafé in the early ‘50s) I don’t normally drink anything “instant”.
We visited the Montclair center coffee shop one afternoon to make sure the coffee offered was up-to-snuff. It is a cozy store at 49 Church Street; a street lined with boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and the local movie theater. The store’s shelves were filled with assorted bags and containers of coffee from different parts of the world, all perfectly roasted and ready to brew, as well as coffee pots, mugs and cups for sale; the counter was loaded with cookies, blondies and biscotti, all bakd in the Suffern facility – I highly recommend the cherry and pistachio biscotti; they are a bit on the hard side but... ah so tasty!
The smell of properlyl-roasted, aromatic, coffee beans wafted in the air.
The baristas drew perfect cups, not only of espresso but filtered, pressed, dripped… all the assorted variations that coffee-lovers expect. It is in the perfect location for a stop in downtown Montclair, if one is shopping anywhere in that city. I had espresso and biscotti, my comanions cappuccino and cookies... we all enjoyed the mid-afternoon pick-me-up!
For further information or to order coffee see https://javaloveroasters.com/products/coffee-club
I have traveled to South America, specifically Colombia and Guatemala, to visit coffee producers. I saw small artisanal fincas (the Spanish name for a farm) that grow coffee plants in ½ acre of land and also large, actually huge plantations or fincas turisticas of many hectares, especially in Colombia, where they grow coffee, cocoa, plantains and avocados because they use the byproducts of coffee processing to fertilize the other three types of plants (see Caffé Olé, My Colombian Journey).
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